When people talk about American wine, they’re often thinking about California. As it turns out, there’s actually at least one winery in every state in the United States, and New York is one of the oldest wine-producing states in the country.
On a recent trip to New York, I got the chance to explore three Long Island wineries. Here, I’ll give a brief review of the places I visited, although there are hundreds of different options to choose from when visiting Long Island wine country.
For this trip, my grandmother Benita and I headed to the North Fork of Long Island, since it’s only about an hour drive from her home in Queens. While there are over 50 wine producers on Long Island, we stuck mainly to the Peconic and Jamesport areas.
We went on a rainy day in February, so we didn’t get much of a chance to visit any of the wineries’ outdoor patio areas, which I’m sure are beautiful in spring or summer. Nevertheless, each place still managed to make us feel cozy and welcome inside its tasting room.
Stop 1: Raphael Vineyards
We started with Raphael Vineyards for lunch with a pairing of four wines and cheeses.
We also ordered baked brie and a flatbread from the winery’s a la carte menu. All of the food we tried was fresh and tasty.
The inside of the winery was expansive, with high ceilings, chandeliers, and wood beams. Definitely somewhere I could see as a setting for weddings or special events.
1) 2017 Chardeaux, which was a mix of a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It was crisp, light, and a little bit tart with hints of green apple. 😊
2) 2017 Rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes. The wine was very light in color with a floral, almost perfumed scent.
3) 2016 Estate Merlot, which was light red, almost reddish brown in color and very fruit forward. 😊
4) 2014 First Label Merlot, which had a more pronounced nose. It was a bit jammy and tasted of dark fruit. 😊 I tend to lean toward big, bold reds, and this was my favorite wine from Raphael.
All Raphael wines available for purchase can be explored via the winery’s website in the “Wine Shop” section.
Stop 2: Pindar Vineyards
Pindar is one of the largest and most well-known Long Island wineries. This vineyard stood out to me because of its focus on environmental sustainability. We also wanted to make it one of our stops to find out if Pindar had started producing canned wine yet, which we read about in Newsday the day before we left for the wineries! Unfortunately, the canned wine wasn’t ready for purchase when we visited. We hear it will be available later in 2019.
This setting was a bit more laid back, with a long tasting counter in the center of the room. One wall is completely lined by bottles of different Pindar varietals. A unique aspect of this tasting experience is that you can build your own tasting with your choice of any five wines from Pindar’s menu for only $12.
1) 2017 Viognier, which had a clean, lemon scent, reminding me of fresh flowers. This was a nice, easy drinking wine for summer. 😊
2) Winter White, a blend which was a bit sweet for my tastes, but Benita liked it.
3) 2016 Gamay Noir had a light ruby color, and it was a nice, dry red with a bit of a cherry note. Our pourer advised to serve it with lighter meals like fish.
4) Pythagoras – this wine was full of dark fruits, and delicious, with a strong initial fruity scent. We were told it’s one of the most popular wines at Pindar, and I can see why. 😊 😊
5) 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was darker in color with an earthier smell and notes of dark fruit and leather. 😊 😊
6) In addition to the five wines we each chose, we also got to taste the 2014 Cabernet Port for free, paired with a Hershey’s kiss. This was somewhat in between a wine and a true port in taste, with a higher alcohol content than most traditional wines.
These wines were some of my favorites, and I would definitely recommend this tasting room. We didn’t need a reservation, and both the interior and staff were warm and inviting. Learn more about Pindar’s wines and mission on its website.
Stop 3: Clovis Point
We decided to stop at Clovis Point Vineyard & Winery on our way back to Queens. This winery was packed with people, and a live band provided the music. At Clovis Point, you can choose to do a tasting of white wines, red wines, or both. We opted for the Cold Flight, since Benita prefers white wine.
The Cold Flight:
1) 2017 Sauvignon Blanc – this was a nice, easy drinking wine with a bit of a tart finish. Seems great for summer and sitting out on your deck or porch. 😊
2) The 2015 Chardonnay was on the lighter side for a Chardonnay, similar to a Pinot Gris with some fruitiness and minerality.
3) 2015 Black Label Chardonnay – this one had a buttery feeling while still producing a “clean” taste.
4) 2017 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. I’m not normally into big buttery Chardonnays, but this one was great. It was similar to some of the butter-bombs we’ve tried in California. This wine also reminded me of the smell of baked goods, with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. Our pourer mentioned that as its name implies, this wine is always aged in oak, not steel. 😊
5) The Rosé. This one was a bit sweet for my taste.
You can learn more about Clovis Point’s wines by visiting its website.
Clovis Point was a solid addition to our day. Since I favor reds, it’s possible that my rankings would be different if I had gone for the Red Flight or Complete Flight instead. That will have to wait for another visit!
Ultimately, we had a great time everywhere. Based on the wines alone and the flexibility you have with your tasting, Pindar was my favorite. However, I would recommend any of these Long Island wineries for a future visit. With so many options available on the North Fork, you really can’t go wrong.
Check out the following resources to learn more about Long Island Wineries and plan your next visit: